Tyler Murray handles broadcasting duties for the Dunedin Blue Jays.
DUNEDIN – Light rain sprinkled from the dark gray clouds billowing over Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on a humid summer night.
On the field, the Dunedin Blue Jays were playing the Daytona Cubs.
In the broadcast booth, play-by-play announcer Tyler Murray was calling the game with one eye on the diamond below and the other on the weather radar on his laptop computer.
Then came a text message. Murray passed the announcing to his assistant, took off his headset and ran down to the field – for tarp duty.
Murray, 23, wears many hats. As the Blue Jays’ broadcasting coordinator, he is the principal play-by-play broadcaster, media relations guy and jack-of-all-trades. And when it rains, he helps the grounds crew and other staff members cover the field with a tarp.
Like the players on the field, Murray hopes to make it to the big leagues someday, to be a voice heard by millions. But for now, he said, he is living the dream.
“I have my dream job right now,” he said. “Maybe not the dream fan base, ballpark or salary, but our fans are loyal, the team is great, and I make enough to break even on rent and food every month.
“I’m doing everything I can to advance up the ladder. Just like the players, our dream is to make it to the bigs. For me, it’s all about staying in sports and staying on the air.”
Murray was born in Riverside, Connecticut, and moved to Medfield, Massachusetts, when he was 7. “I was a New York (Yankees) fan in Boston territory,” he said.
Murray’s passion for sports journalism began when he was in high school.
“Everyone always says, ‘We love sports, but we’re not good enough to play,’ but I’ll do you one better,” he said. “I’d go home every afternoon and read the daily Yankees news written by Mark Feinsand.”
Murray graduated from Boston University with a degree in journalism. He started with a concentration in writing because of his love for English and writing in high school. People started telling him he had a good radio voice, however, and he enjoyed hanging around the school’s radio station. So he switched his concentration to broadcast journalism.
After college, Murray worked as the assistant director of broadcasting and media relations for the Daytona Cubs. His supervisor, Robbie Aaron, helped Murray get the position with the Dunedin Blue Jays, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
In Dunedin, a typical day at the ballpark for Murray begins at 10:30 a.m., roughly eight hours before the first pitch.
Murray arrives at the stadium and starts by printing lineups and putting together game notes. He calls it the “bare minimum to start. Every day something else pops up like a graphic, press release, promotions schedule, etc., etc.”
At 3 p.m., game notes and lineups are distributed. Al Hernandez, the assistant coordinator of broadcasting and media relations, goes to the home and visiting clubhouses and the press box to drop them off.
“After the game note prep, we can get to the fun stuff,” Murray said.
From 4 to 5 p.m., he and Hernandez put the scorecard stats together and interview a player. They split this task and after batting practice one goes into the clubhouse to catch a player. The interview takes four to five minutes, depending on the player.
“Usually it’s a hot hitter,” said Hernandez. “Tyler (Murray) doesn’t like to interview someone too good because he doesn’t want to jinx him. Sometimes interviews last longer, especially when they’re talking to Tyler; he’s good at shooting the s—-.”
During this time, Murray prepares his scorecard by looking up each player on both teams to reference during the broadcast. This helps him offer details about each player – height, weight, when they were drafted – while they’re at bat.
At 6:15 p.m., Murray and Hernandez begin the play-by-play, which is aired online and broadcast on WTAN-AM 1340 every Saturday.
For most game broadcasts, Murray does the play-by-play for the first three innings. Hernandez takes over until the seventh inning, and Murray finishes off the broadcast. Both chat and joke during lulls in on-field action. But as soon as something happens on the diamond, the chat stops mid-sentence, to be finished after the action is reported.
During a game in June, Murray and Hernandez were on alert for the possibility of rain. Other teams in the area were having rain delays and rainouts.
Murray got the signal and went to sit by the tarp while Hernandez held down the broadcast. When Murray returned a few innings later, Hernandez went down to the field to replace him. The radar on Murray’s computer showed the bay area covered in rain, but for the night, the stadium stayed dry.
After the game, Hernandez went to do an on-field interview and Murray wrapped up the broadcast by playing highlights and giving a preview of the next day’s game.
He finished his day at 10 p.m. and headed for his nearby home.
Tomorrow he’ll do it all again.
Taylor Williams is a student journalist in the Neighborhood News Bureau at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Reach her at 941-268-6343.